Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What if Diana had lived?

But had she lived through years more of controversial love affairs, marriages, more divorces...and the decline of her beauty, society would perhaps have grown cynical about its princess. Her funeral - in the year 2000 and something - might have been a minor and depressing event. As it was, through such a premature death, the aura she had magically generated in sixteen years remained untarnished, intact into the afterlife.

Diana, an English rose by Susan Maxwell Skinner & Anwar Hussein

A new book, called Lady D, by Isabelle Rivère and Caroline Babert, asks the question, What would Diana's life have been like had she lived?

Ultimately, I believe that this premise is an exercise in futility. What would have happened had King Edward VIII not abdicated, John F. Kennedy not been assassinated, or the catastrophe of September 11th not occurred. We'll never know, but life goes on. The death of Diana did happen. With the supposed 'spiral of self-destruction' she went through in her last summer, some might say it was inevitable.

In the year that marks the 10th anniversary of Diana's death, some will feel nostalgic, some will make a note of it, and many won't care. Had she lived it's more than likely that, over time, less and less people would have cared. Without the restraint of Princess Grace, the class of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, or the elegance of Princess Alexandra of Denmark (now Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg), Diana's life would have become somewhat sad over time. Despite paying lip-service to forgiving Prince Charles, the game of one-upmanship would have continued, with Diana pathetically trying to grab headlines in any way she could.

The tell-all books from the likes of Paul Burrell and Simone Simmons - no longer posthumous - would have been postponed. With the cachet of being an insider, Diana was much more valuable to them alive. But like Sarah, Duchess of York, Diana might have created her own cottage industry as a patron of various charities, a foundation in her name, a guest editor of fashion magazines, writing forwards for books or even writing a few books of her own.

It's nice to think that Diana was blossoming and it seems, coming into her own. She was steering two young men towards their destiny. While unlucky in love, the tide might have turned. Like Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis, had she chosen to return to private life, it might even have been possible to find happiness. The list of lives she could have touched, causes she could have highlighted, good she could have done is endless, and sad to think about.

Could Diana have changed the world? Could she have lived happily ever after?

Because of August 31, 1997, we'll never know.

© Marilyn Braun 2007

Like royal books? Visit Marilyn's Royal Bookstore!


Harbormaster said...

It would be interesting to see Diana in an alternative reality and how things might have been different. I has married the same year as Diana and my wife and I seemed to follow her more than any other royal. Like you say, we never know how things could have turned out with her still here on earth...

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you about such a book being an exercise in futility. Also, it seems exploitative somehow. (Of her memory maybe? I can't really explain that one.)

I thought this statement (from the Telegraph review) was hilarious: "And we're certain that everything else corresponds to exactly what might have happened." Riiight.

Virginia Lee said...

I believe Diana did change the world already. She changed the royal family and how they are perceived. Those changes cannot be undone, I believe. Also, her legacy is her sons. Both young men are seemingly good-hearted chaps who wish to do good for the world as their mother did. Hence the concert they've planned in her name.

As for any books about her? They, I fear, are more about lining the pockets of the authors than anything else. That's okay, in a sense, but it would sit better if they contributed a percentage of any profits to her charities.

Anonymous said...

August 31, 1997 was an event before blogs. Your blog reminds me of Tom Brokaw's execrable coverage of the funeral. He clearly knew almost nothing about the Royals. Obviously, in hindsignt, he needed your blog to catch up before broadcasting.

Marilyn Braun said...

Uhhhhh...thanks...I think?

Anonymous said...

They say that if Kennedy had lived, he probably would not have achieved what he did. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a person's death for us to really appreciate them. Sad but true, we like dead heroes more than live ones.